Translating Fontenelle: Johann Christoph Gottsched’s Gespräche von mehr als einer Welt (1726) as a scientific encyclopaedia

My stay at the Herzog August Bibliothek is part of my latest project, revolving around the European translations of Bernard de Fontenelle’s astronomical bestseller Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes (1686). At the intersection of history of science, cultural history and translation studies, my research addresses the debates on natural philosophy at the core of the Enlightenment period by considering the Italian, German and English translations of the Entretiens as one transnational, interconnected case study.

In Wolfenbüttel, I focus on the 1726 translation by Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700-1766) to show that, by means of a spectacular number of paratextual devices, Gottsched authored a distinct treatise of natural philosophy running parallel to the translated text, to transform the Entretiens into a compendium of European sciences ranging from the discoveries of ancient Greek astronomers to the latest developments of Cartesian and Newtonian physics.